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Elderberry Syrup and Tea for Colds and Flu

As Autumn creeps in I stock my cupboards with a few items to prevent and treat colds and flu. Gan Mao Ling, Kwan Loong oil, vitamin C, Immustim or Wellness Formula, to name a few, but one of my favorites is simple and reliable elderberry tea and syrup.

All parts of the elder plant have a long history in folk medicine. The flower is used to promote sweating and resolve phlegm from exterior pathogens. The inner bark and root are used as strong emetics and to relieve stubborn constipation. The leaves and berries can be made into poultices with vinegar or honey to relieve damp heat in the skin such as poison ivy.

Elderberry syrup is one of the first things that I reach for when someone is starting to fight a cold or flu. From a Chinese medicine perspective there are two major reasons that we get sick: either our system is weak and susceptible to exterior invasion (Lung qi and wei qi deficiency) or the pathogen is exceptionally strong relative to us (think of plagues). Elderberry helps to strengthen any Lung deficiency condition, giving your immune system a powerful boost. It is antiviral and anti-infective, perfect for fighting off those pesky viruses. The berry also has expectorant, diaphoretic and diuretic properties to help move fluids, the bowels and relieve phlegm. It even helps treat food poisoning. Elderberry is high in calcium, vitamins A, C and B6 and iron—and, best of all, it’s tasty and kids don’t usually mind it.

So how do I use it?
I start to use elderberry tea (often mixed with other teas like berry or nettles) several times a week at the start of school or weather transitions. The syrup is handy for […]

By |2019-01-25T12:20:17-06:00December 23rd, 2018|Categories: Blogs, Nutrition Articles|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Elderberry Syrup and Tea for Colds and Flu

Tips For Handling The Stomach Flu

Tyra Burgess, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM)

“I am so tired, I have no energy.”

” I am feeling heavy and sick to my stomach. I am queasy and have a slight headache.”

If you have said this to yourself or to someone else, it is likely that you are suffering from the flu. Not the fill your head with snot flu, but the stomach flu. Viral Gastroenteritis, is described by the Mayo clinic as, “Gastroenteritis,  attacks your intestines, causing signs and symptoms, such as:

  •  Watery, usually nonbloody diarrhea — bloody diarrhea usually means you have a different, more severe infection
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Nausea, vomiting or both
  • Occasional muscle aches or headache
Other signs and symptoms are a low grade fever, vomiting, sweating, the hot and cold chills, and general fatigue and achiness. Once one contracts the flu, symptoms will appear with in 1 to three days, and can last anywhere from 24hrs to 7 days. 
Treatment for the flu
  • Always come and see your practitioner. While we try to prevent any illness, they do occur, and when they do, we are best utilized as soon as possible, to balance the body’s qi flow, creating balance, and herbal therapies to aid the body through the illness. In our practice we have used several supplements to help bring the body back to balance.
  • Use Pill curing, green clay or charcoal to ease the stomach
  • Take a ginger bath to help push out the pathogen, and kill the invading pathogen as ginger is an excellent microbial. Simply […]
By |2019-01-25T12:20:51-06:00December 21st, 2018|Categories: Blogs, Chinese Medicine, Common Conditions|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Understanding Gua Sha–The Art of Scraping

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

What is Gua Sha?
Based on the theories of ‘counteraction,’ Gua sha or frictioning uses a smooth edged tool to scrape the skin intentionally bringing up a rash to release pathogens and pain.  There are beautiful tools of bone, jade or other precious materials  made especially for gua sha,  however  my pragmatic side favors the $2 porcelain Chinese soup spoon that I can get from World Market and that fits perfectly in my hand.

Hippocrates identified 4 types of frictioning and their specific healing benefits stating, “It has the power of loosening, binding, augment and diminishing.” Huh, what does that mean?

Soft frictioning–Uses light quick strokes to loosen the flesh. This technique may not bring up strong rash and clears quickly. It is used for those who are very weak or in areas that can’t handle great depth or where you don’t want a rash to show up such as the face. Yeah, really, a little gua sha can release TMJ and tight jaw muscles.  Yes, we can apply gua sha to the jaw.

Moderate frictioning–Uses medium pressure and frequency of strokes to increase the flesh. Used for overall pain and to fight off colds and flu.

Hard frictioning–Uses deeper quicker strokes to strengthen the flesh. Used for overall and chronic deep pain and to fight off colds and flu.

Prolonged–Uses longer, slowly to break up thick congestion or thin the flesh such as thick scar tissues.

What does gua sha treat?
All frictioning generates heat and releases exterior invasions or the 6 Evils. Many Asian cultures use Gua Sha extensively at the onset of a cold or are ‘coming down’ with something. Gua sha also release deep stagnation and pain.

Pain–anywhere–Doesn’t really matter […]

Holistic Tips for Colds & Flus Workshop

Holistic Tips for

Colds & Flus Workshop


Before taking April’s class, I had spent at least a year in and out of doctors’ offices with sinus infections. I was taking anti-biotics, using inhalers, and constantly feeling run-down. The information on herbal first aid has had a dramatic positive impact on my health.  I would highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to improve their health naturally.

-J. F.


By |2016-12-29T12:24:17-06:00October 1st, 2014|Categories: Blogs|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Exterior and Interior Causes of Disease According to The 8 Principles

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

Why do we get ill?

Illness or disharmonies are reflective of a homeodynamic imbalance in the body.  Likely you’ve heard of the term ‘homeostatis’–the idea that the body reaches a healthy point and then stays there.  I prefer homeodynamic, because our body and mind is constantly adjusting, like a tightrope walker, to come back to health.  It’s a very dynamic and active process not one that reaches a plateau and then becomes static.

It’s not always clear sometimes, however the 8 Principles theory of Chinese Medicine can help us identify the functional disharmony and thereby focus treatment. Like Five ElementsOrgan theory,  and the 6 Jiao, the 8 Principles is just one of many tools that a Chinese Medicine practitioner has available to identify patterns and thereby hone treatment to the individual.   […]

A New Look At the Intermountain Home Landscape Green Spaces: Part 1

The article below is part one of a series graciously contributed by one of our clients. Watch next month for part 2!

A New Look At the Intermountain Home Landscape Green Spaces

By William Habblett, CNP, CPD
Landscape Industry Certified Manager
CWI Horticulture Instructor

Acres upon acres of Kentucky bluegrass (KBG), dusted with some perennial rye cover the landscapes of residential and commercial areas. These fields of green give back a feeling of serenity that stems from the open view that we can see for miles and the actual calming, “negative space” in the landscape where your eyes can rest. All that it asks for is just a few things: weekly mowing, edge trimming and removal from the flower and shrub beds for 36 weeks, at least 36” of moisture through the growing season, 5 pounds of Nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft per year, weed controls and at least aeration once per year. So you ask, what’s the problem with this for the simple visual serenity that has driven us for the last 150 years?

Most people average at least an hour per week mowing and maintaining their lawn. While this can be considered some great physical activity, most of us use motorized equipment that for every hours used, releases more pollutants than ten cars driven for an hour. Moisture? We average eleven inches of moisture per year in snow and rainfall in the Treasure Valley, where KBG requires at least 36” moisture to maintain summer green but will do best with 56” of moisture. But how much water does that equal? You need to apply 22,450 to 34,900 gallons of water per 25’ x 40’ section of turf per year.

Now in fairness, it is also the most drought […]

When Yang Collapses–Rebuilding The Fires

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP

Yang collapse–sound pretty severe, right? In Chinese medicine it is–and it’s often a long, slow and difficult hill to climb for recovery.  Why? Literally, you have burnt out the fire and transformative functions in the body.  Most importantly, clients who have reached deep Yang deficiency are notoriously bad about resting– which is essential to rebuilding Yang.

How deficiencies arise

You played too hard. You became severely ill. You didn’t eat or rest appropriately.  You were under too much stress.  Sometimes we can narrow it down and find one thing that may have caused the collapse but most often it’s a number things that combined leading to eventual collapse. There are many avenues in which the body takes impact of stress, illness and daily living, and when we are vital and healthy we bounce back. Overtime, however, we may continue to dwindle and signs of deficiency will show up.  It’s a progressive process that left unchecked will get worse and worse until something gives way.

The progression of deficiency in the body

Qi Deficiency–Qi deficiency is the starting place. Fortunately, Qi deficiency, though common, is very easy to recover from.  You’re a bit tired, worn out from the day, nothing that a good night’s sleep and some appropriate rest can’t fix.   There will be little change in the tongue, and the pulses will feel a little weak, but you will recover quickly.  Find out more about building Qi here.

Yin or Yang?–Left unchecked, Qi deficiency will progress, leading down a path of either Yin or Yang deficiency. Which path you follow depends on life circumstances, constitution, pre-existing weaknesses and other factors.  Truly, both Yin and Yang are going to […]

Fire Cupping

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

Fire cupping is a wonderful therapy that has been a part of Chinese medicine for at least 3,000 years, and it’s becoming more common and familiar to Americans.  Thank you!  Though on first impression it may look a little daunting, fire cupping feels great and moves Qi magnificently.  However, it is not for everyone and considerations must be taken into account with each individual client.


April Crowell Fire Cupping

A little history on cupping

Before there was glass, horns or bamboo cups were used for fire cupping.  However,  they carried with them a few problems–namely sterilization, access to horns (not a wildlife friendly practice), and the ability to see how treatment was proceeding.  Glass jars proved far superior because they seal better to the flesh, are easy to clean and their clear structure allowed the practitioner to observe the progress of treatment better.  Today, some practitioners use plastic cups with a suctioning apparatus–but I simply favor the fire.

What is fire cupping?

Fire cupping uses glass jars that have an ignited material (I use cotton balls soaked in alcohol) placed briefly inside them to create negative pressure.  The flame is then quickly removed and the jar placed over specific areas of the body creating suction.  This pressure moves the Blood, Qi and fluids of the area raising a petechiae rash–that’s a good thing in this case.

Petechiae Rash

The rash itself is an assessment tool for the practitioner.  Its color, how quickly or slowly it rises and how long it remains reveal how deep the pattern of disharmony is.  For example a deep purple rash indicates […]

Helping Children Grow & Thrive–Chinese Medicine for Children

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP

I am often asked if Chinese medicine and Amma Therapy can be used to treat children.  The answer is–yes, of course and very effectively.  But don’t limit Chinese medicine to just treatment of acute and chronic illness.  The core principles of Chinese medicine and nutrition are actually about creating and maintaining wellness through all life stages, however it is most important during growing and transitional years of childhood.

As a practitioner and teacher of Chinese medicine and Holistic Nutrition I wasn’t overly surprised when my daughter, Clara (then 13) walked into the kitchen one day with tears streaming down her face.

“What’s up?” I tried not to chuckle (a typical fire element response–laughing inappropriately to the situation).

“I don’t know! I just burst into tears,” she sobbed, half angry and half wanting to laugh.

After a bit of inquiry and we had eliminated that there wasn’t an emergency.  She wasn’t physically hurt, she hadn’t been in a fight, she’d burst into tears for no apparent reason.  Actually, there was a reason–Liver Qi stagnation.  During the teen years the Liver’s role of Free and Easy Flow of Qi and Blood becomes very active, coinciding with the changing hormones in teens.  But it doesn’t necessarily move gracefully, often it stagnates and causes problems like wild mood swings, PMS, irritability, and anger outbursts.  Observation of her tongue and pulse confirmed the assessment, I gave Clara a quick reminder of what Liver Qi stagnation is, gave her a little apple cider vinegar (sour moves Liver quickly) and we found some good humor in the silliness of the emotional roller coaster.

Now don’t jump […]

12 Common Immune Enhancing Herbs & Foods

April Crowell, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA CI & CP, CHN

As requested–a blog about a few common herbs that have antiviral, antibacterial and immune enhancing natures. Just in time before schools and the cold and flu seasons start.

A virus, cold or flu in the eyes of Chinese medicine is an exterior invasion. Something is attacking the body from outside. Like all exterior invasions, to treat it we need to identify the nature of the disharmony using the 6 Exterior Evils (Pathogens) wind, cold, heat, dampness, dry, and summer heat.  When it comes to colds and flu wind, cold, heat and dampness are the most common culprits. Read more about exterior and interior patterns here.

Having formulas like Ge Gen Wan and Gan Mao Ling and single herbs like propolis, goldenseal and echinaccea are on hand is a good idea.  No one wants to run to the store or herbalist when you are sick. However, none of these herbs are delightful to nosh and it  isn’t appropriate to ingest them frequently.

Before we get ill, we have an opportunity–the chance to implement preventative habits and build our immunity by regularly ingesting foods and herbs in their simplest form.   These foods fall into the “release the exterior” and bitter  and pungent (spicy)-and they are abundant.  Actually, I had a bit of challenge to choose just twelve.   Including some of these foods and herbs regularly in your diet can make a world of difference the next time Violet Virus comes to play.   Personally, I crack out the formulas or propolis when a vicious battle looms and I get in for Amma or acupuncture quick…I don’t like being sick…..

Cinnamon–Sweet, hot and pungent, astringent and drying. Cinnamon stimulates, restores […]

By |2018-05-25T10:20:30-06:00August 17th, 2014|Categories: Blogs|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on 12 Common Immune Enhancing Herbs & Foods